Vital Signs




Listen to Live Reading




Listen to Suggested Audio


Marilyn Manson “Cleansing”




My flesh liquifies, runs up my spine forming a halo in the afterglow of a heart reinstalling the vital signs. The certainty of the sky at dawn creeping across the horizon line awakening the orange-red-violet hues shedding light upon the living metaphors.


Vital signs are strong. Not entirely sure when the last time either one of us could truly say that. You see, there’s a tendency in life to get a little waylaid in the waltz and ride the carousel without pausing for a moment to check our pulses. Everything may appear kosher and energy levels through a ceiling which doesn’t exist, but that’s not to say we’re not in danger of dropping out of the game. Indeed, we know only too well of “the cygnet effect” and how to transmit the feeling of calm, all the while paddling wildly beneath the surface in a desperate attempt to remain topside. It’s an exasperating pursuit at times but sure beats gliding aimlessly across a misted lake with nothing other than ghosts to guide us. These specters are representations of our pasts, the sorrows we have faced, pains we have endured. And they can be particularly persuasive once the fog rolls in, their suggestions alarmingly abrasive.


Life seldom affords anything other than very basic respiratory function. It shifts like the face of a Catholic priest once the communion curtain has been drawn. Wishes to be made known of every last indiscretion, so it can commence its suppression. Should we opt for confession, then we are held in contempt, and promptly bumped into repentance. Suddenly we’re serving life’s very own sentence. Searching for answers in all the wrong places, unaware we’re suspended in stasis. Any opposing forces are a man-made affair and the truths they declare can be harsh and unfair. It is no minor feat catching breath with rough hands around your throat. And reality knows just how to strangle. While ignorance is blissful for those predisposed with holding their breath as it tapers the flow; the rest of us choke on the bile as it rises. Step out from beneath our disguises. Stand up for the count. Stand out.


Whatever it takes is the greykeeper motto. Every last nerve ending, muscle, sinew, and platelet is invested. Nothing whatsoever is contested. But then, everything is. All is very much questioned as the court is in session, every thought stretched taut by suppression. Not to mention apprehension of our logical minds as artists are inclined to leave reason behind. We walk against the wind as we like the way it braces. Kisses each contour it traces. Sometimes it chills for additional feels. Tis done with the airs and the graces. It can spin us around on the spot until we’re no longer sure which direction we’re facing. But this just gets our little hearts racing. As we live for the rush and believe in each gush. To us, reality never was quite enough. Through art we tear off our pale skin. Can relinquish the darkness within. Travel beyond the speed of light, glancing shadows which dance upon each orb as they pass. It is then that our lives become works of fine art.


All the while, reality bites. Restraints ever tightened as our senses are heightened by the chemicals coursing each wire and this is where things start to backfire. Whatever our chosen narcotic, the results are just as chaotic. We bank on each subsequent high and believe it to fuel creativity. And, to a degree, it most certainly does. Under its influence, we can cross oceans in a solitary brainwave, no longer confined by very human design. Resigned to this buzz, little time to make fuss of a tiny little thing like comedown. What goes up inevitably plummets and it’s some way down from the summit. Once the meds wear off, the terrain grows more rugged, the edges they blur, and each shadow concurs. Time to feel once again. Human emotion. Real-time locomotion, course set for commotion, as it imparts a mere handful of tokens. Exhaustion, both mental and physical. Vacancy. Irrationality. Resentment. And ultimately bitterness. Then double back to exhaustion and repeat for the fade. Only ever one hit from our next soiled charade.


This perpetual cycle cares not of our plight and too lost in its melody are we to put up a fight. Right up until the umpteenth warning sign in swift succession. Each hits with blunt force, ever more excessive, as this fantasy world grows increasingly oppressive. Night outranks day and reality is no longer any more than a brief encounter long since begotten. Anxiety reigns and the pains are pronounced by grim realization that we’re dropping right out. For all our devout, we’re ensnared in a trap. One which could end us, should we fail to turn back. Such wild dedication to invalid medication will only ever lead to one place. Dinner for one. At a table alone with only our own thoughts as company and logic no longer willing to pitch in. It is then that we realize just how human we have become. For we have fallen for the oldest trick in the book. Become hopelessly addicted to a toxin which constricts our true movements. Development arrested, improvements contested, as our drug of poor choice believes it has us well bested.


Access denied. As we’ve played for our pride, been denied for too long and deprived of swan song by artificial means, a most callous smokescreen devised for our eyes, only view to a kill, as it flanks us. And after fucking our skulls long enough, it hasn’t even got the decency to thank us. We’re talking WHAM! BAM! and a phat pinch of SLAM as it flat-out refuses to go lightly. But as it vacates our system, we begin to see clearly, feel far more sincerely, shine that much more severely and brightly. Far from spritely we feel as we’re tweaking so hard, every aching bone jarred by withdrawal. But the funk of formaldehyde is duly replaced by something a little more floral. Granted, our human skin itches. And reboot may entail a few glitches. However, each of these twitches is a feeling. And there’s passion to just what they’re revealing.


We can still soar, indeed, we can fly to the sun, scorch our wings if we wish, and need not be undone. The path doth not lie, it looks deep in our eyes, thus unlocking the very truest of artists inside. No longer denied. Vital signs returning. Fire within burning. Raging, rampaging free of captivity, no longer bound by relativity, but divine synchronicity. Once located, locked in, we’re right back in the game, every venture laced only with gain. The brain can be a tricky piece of kit to retrain but, free of the chemicals, it can function again. It shall function again. No question. May not be free of unruly suggestion, but we’ve mastered the art of prevention. The drugs didn’t work. They just made things worse. Thus, it seems only just to conclude with this verse.


My flesh liquifies, runs up my spine forming a halo in the afterglow of a heart reinstalling the vital signs. The certainty of the sky at dawn creeping across the horizon line awakening the orange-red-violet hues shedding light upon the living metaphors.





Richard Charles Stevens


Keeper of The Crimson Quill




Click here to purchase on Amazon



© Copyright: Rivers of Grue™



1 Comment

If you like what you've seen & read please feel free to share your thoughts with us!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.